East Anglia leads the way as hot June weather boosts retailers
Summer sunshine gave a welcome boost to retailers in June as shoppers updated their wardrobes for the fine weather.
Footfall was up 0.8% on last year across the UK, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), with high street consumers leading the way, while most retail hot-spots in Norfolk and Suffolk also recorded encouraging figures.
In Great Yarmouth, town centre manager Jonathan Newman said good weather and events had led to a 6% year-on-year rise.
He said: “I certainly felt that the warm weather in June encouraged more people, including an early sprinkling of summer holidaymakers, into the town centre, while the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival and Palmers [department store] 180th anniversary event added a bit of a buzz too.
“The healthy increase in footfall has continued into July and looks set to grow further with the schools now breaking up for the summer.”
Across the border in Suffolk, Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, the town’s Business Improvement District company, said footfall during June had been 7.1% higher compared with a year earlier at 476,157. Saturday, June 17 was the busiest day of the month with a total of 20,725 visitors to the town centre recorded.
June’s figure left the year-to-date total 3.4% higher compared with the first half of 2016, ahead of the UK average of 0.6% growth although behind the East of England figure of 5.9%, he said.
However, things were not quite as rosy in Norwich where June saw a fall of 20,000, or 0.9%.
But Norwich BID chief executive Stefan Gurney said the city centre was still up by 5% for the year to date. He said: “Norwich was slightly down against last year for the month. But we are up 5% for the year to date and ahead of the UK quite considerably.
“We have been looking at where we are down and for some reason it is on Tuesdays. We are 12% down on a Tuesday compared to last year.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said: “High streets and retail parks saw solid growth in footfall, as shoppers headed out to renew their wardrobes and purchase other seasonal items.”
The Vancouver Quarter Shopping Centre in King’s Lynn had a busy June with 667,000 visits and the first week of the month seeing a year-on-year increase of 11%.
Abbie Panks, Vancouver Quarter Centre Manager, said: “We saw good numbers in June – especially the first week – and it shows, yet again, how important events are for town centres as they continue to bring people in.
“From the Waterski racing to adventure trails, Father’s Day activities, and the additional workshops we put on in June, they all had an impact on footfall.
“It remains clear that people aren’t just coming to town centres to shop. They are coming for leisure activities as well.”